Busted Halo

Seeker Annie Reuter comes up against the most Catholic event on the planet: World Youth Day. Watch through her eyes as she asks others who are attending for help on her own spiritual journey.

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August 12th, 2011

Last August, I moved in with my two Jewish roommates and we started writing about our interfaith living situation for the Busted Halo blog, Girls Meet God. Truthfully, I’ve never been one to talk openly about religion and while I was raised Catholic I never really knew the exact answers of why I believe the things that I do. Often, it was just a reflection of what I experienced as a child.

Why do I give up chocolate for Lent? Does going to church every Sunday really make you a better Catholic? Are there coincidences in life, or is it all a part of God’s bigger plan? I’m hoping to find the beginnings of these answers while in Madrid for World Youth Day, but also to discover why the Catholic faith is so important to some and what being Catholic means for people in different countries.

Throughout the past few years, it wasn’t at Mass that I felt God’s presence, but at concert venues, pursuing what I love. That’s where I truly feel connected to my faith. My roommates have told me, “Doing what you love takes a lot of faith.” While I believe this to be true I’m hoping that I can start finding my faith everywhere — not just at a concert venue or interviewing my favorite band — but in day-to-day situations. And this August in Madrid I plan to do just that while talking with other young pilgrims, asking priests and nuns the questions we always wonder but are too afraid to ask, and just being open to the unexpected.

August 9th, 2011

Despite the popular sentiment found in Office Space, the 8-hour workday was a huge victory for laborers burdened with 12-16-hour workdays. 8 hours work, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours sleep seems very reasonable and makes sense. But after I moved to Austin to live in the same city as Brandon, I started to get the feeling that an 8-hour workday didn’t really work for me.

Before I moved to Austin, I never had a real 9-to-5 job. In college, I worked in the dean’s office with other people that lived in my dorm, and I had at least some classes with my roommates. After college I worked at a Catholic Worker house where I lived and worked with the same people. I liked life like this. Home and work were kind of one in the same.

Brandon and I had been dating long distance for a couple of years, and we decided that we needed to live in the same city to truly discern whether or not we wanted to get married. So I moved to Austin and got a regular 9-to-5 job. I didn’t see Brandon every day until 6 or 7 at night. We’d go for a run together, cook dinner, and eat. By then it was usually 9 or 10 p.m. and time to get ready for bed. I moved to Austin to better figure out my relationship with Brandon and I only got to see him 3 hours on weeknights. That did not seem like much. Especially when you further subtract driving time to and from each other’s apartments across town.

The “8 hours work, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours sleep” breakdown is pretty misleading. Say you work 8 hours and sleep 8 hours. 8 hours recreation = 1.5 hours getting ready in the morning and eating breakfast, 1-hour roundtrip commute to work (if you’re lucky), 1 hour to cook dinner. That leaves you 4.5 hours every day to spend with your family, do any chores that need to be done, workout (if you’re into that kind …

August 6th, 2011

Unfamiliar with the week long international Catholic spectacle known as World Youth Day? Take a quick look at our 2 minute video telling you all you need to know and find out what Busted Halo will be up to in Madrid this August for WYD 2011.

You can download this video here. (Depending on your browser, clicking this link might save the video to your default downloads location or open the video in a new window. You can probably right-click or control-click the link and specify where to save it.)

August 5th, 2011

When 10,000 Maniacs visited Loyola College in Maryland in 1990, I did not go. As a college freshman who was only a few months removed from the “Hair Metal” culture that then dominated Northern New Jersey, I was not able to comprehend a band whose female lead singer used dramatically less “Aqua Net” than the male lead singers I had been listening to. But lately, I have found myself nostalgic for music that I did not listen to “back in the day,” music that never found it’s way into my own stereo but was playing in the background in the rooms of those with more progressive musical tastes. Perhaps it’s because the music of Natalie Merchant, R.E.M., and the Sundays never had the opportunity to be overplayed in my Walkman that their connections to another part of my life remain strong.

On some level, it’s a little strange that my song of the summer is about a child’s vacation spent somewhere in Europe. I have spent the last two months in Boston, a city that began as a rejection of all things east of the Atlantic and “Verdi Cries” is not exactly a song that would ever be covered by Brian Wilson. But maybe because in a little over a month, I will be making my final promises to the Missionary Society of St. Paul (God willing) and a part of me feels like Wendy who has to leave the nursery and grow up tomorrow.

Of course, this is not the first time I have had to grow up, and it likely won’t be the last. But it’s hard not to be grateful for the gift of a summer to stop and rest. Going through the formation process to become a Catholic priest can at times feel as though five different people are grabbing each finger from one hand and pulling in five different directions with each person screaming the admonition, “Grow!” When personal reflection becomes part of your ongoing job description, opportunities to grow can quickly begin to feel …

August 2nd, 2011

Before coming to write at Busted Halo™ I was already a fan. At that time I was a high school theology teacher so I LOVED how real and relatable everything was on the website. I showed quite a few of the Busted Halo™ videos to my classes, and they loved them. They appreciated that a ministry of the Church was vibrant and modern and tech-y. They ate it up. They were especially impressed with the video explaining the Church’s stance on evolution.

By a completely fortuitous string of events, I submitted my first La Lupe post (after asking permission to write about her), and since then I have really come to value being part of the Busted Halo™ family.

I think that being a young adult is hard but being a faithful young adult is even harder. There is so much transition after leaving college. In college you find insta-friends and don’t have to look far for people that are like you and interested in the same things — for the most part. Then you’re thrown out into the real world. You could move to Seattle and work on an organic farm. You could join the Peace Corps. You could pack fish in Alaska. You could accept that job at Deloitte or ExxonMobil. You could move back in with your parents to save some money (c’mon, we’ve all been there). You could backpack across Europe. You could get married and have babies. You could join the seminary or convent. Ugh. The possibilities are exhilarating and a huge burden at the same time.

Then you do it. You make a choice. From one day to the next you have no friends, are living in a strange and foreign city, and are alone. You continue going to church but you might not really see any other young faces and maybe are too shy to introduce yourself even if you do. It’s at this point that Busted Halo™ is so crucial. For people that may not have found a faith community yet, Busted Halo™ …

July 27th, 2011

What do the phrases “God’s Will” and “God’s plan” really mean? Is it God’s Will when someone suffers? Is it against God’s Will if we decide a possible calling isn’t right for us? A caller question on the Busted Halo radio show about whether the use of medical technology interferes with God’s plan leads Fr. Dave, Robyn and Brett into an interesting conversation about our ability to intervene in, or even define, God’s will for our lives — spanning topics of medical care, callings, the movie The Adjustment Bureau, genetic engineering and the anthropomorphizing of God.

The Busted Halo Show with Father Dave Dwyer is on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, Sirius/XM 129, Monday through Friday, 7:00pm to 10:00pm EST. Give us a call with your questions and comments: 1-888-3-CATHOLIC, or at bustedhalo@thecatholicchannel.org. Go to www.siriusxm.com to get subscription information.

July 26th, 2011

Before I met Brandon, whenever I heard of the Knights of Columbus, I pictured a bunch of old, crotchety, white men sitting around selling chicken or pancakes after Mass. I think we’ve probably all had the experience of being at a church event and instructed to do something by a surly old man in a Knights polo that acts as if he is running the show. Needless to say, my impression of the group was negative and I have met a lot of people who are not shy about voicing this same opinion.

Being a Knight, Brandon is always telling me stories about them. He told me how the Knights were actually founded during a time of rampant Catholic discrimination.  The Knights of Columbus wanted to give men a strong Catholic community to help support their family values and maintain their faith during a time of persecution.  Brandon has also told me about how much good they do. It really is amazing. Just a couple of neat facts about them: Every year they give away about $150 million to charitable causes. All the members combined work 70 million volunteer hours a year. After Hurricane Katrina they gave New Orleans $10 million to get the schools back up and running. Every year they give the Pope $1.6 million to use for whatever charitable causes he sees fit. But on a smaller scale, the parish and its members can always count on the Knights for whatever they need. Here in Brandon’s council they helped a widow who was recently confined to her wheelchair. Along with building her a ramp, they raised her flowerbeds and added a walkway in her backyard for her wheelchair so she could still get out there and do gardening from her wheelchair.

I’ve never really encountered or witnessed the Knights in action until a couple of weeks ago. We went to a wedding in a small town outside of Austin. It was for the son of one of Brandon’s fellow Knights. I’ve honestly never been so impressed with a group of …

July 25th, 2011

A church building is a special place calling for special behavior. While the church is our home and we should feel comfortable there – indeed, the church (small “c”) is a gathering place for the Church, the people of God (capital “C”) – that doesn’t mean that anything goes. Your actions in church show respect for God and for the community that gathers there. If you are stopping by the church to pray, even just for a moment, your actions should respect the place and its purpose.

Spit out your gum, turn off your cell phone, check that you’re appropriately dressed and make the most of the precious opportunity to step away from the ordinary and into a sacred space and time. If you are in the church for mass and you wish to go to communion, remember that Catholics are required to fast for one hour before receiving the Eucharist. This ensures that we are “hungry” (at least symbolically) for the Eucharist and that we show respect for the Body of Christ. The Eucharist is real food, but it is not ordinary food, and thus we don’t mix it in with bites of our ordinary food and drink. Snacking or chewing gum distracts us from the sacred fast that prepares us to receive the Body of Christ. So there’s one more reason to lose the gum.

July 20th, 2011

The Catholic Church teaches that human sexuality is a beautiful gift from God. It allows us to love others and, in a special way, to truly give ourselves in love to one other person…

July 19th, 2011

milk-flash1La Lupe is probably the best nagger on the planet. Everyone around her is poked and prodded to change certain habits. Of course her constant corrections come from a place of total love. She has lived 82 years and knows a little something about habits and what happens after a lifetime of them.

The two things she is always hounding me about are to sit up straight and to drink plenty of milk. Between having eight babies and breastfeeding all of them, La Lupe knows a thing or two about the logistics of motherhood. Whenever I talk to her on the phone she asks me if I’m drinking enough milk because if not then those babies are going to take all my calcium and make me jorobada like her. And as for my posture, moms in general always have bad posture. If we’re not holding one baby on our hip and trying to drag another away from imminent danger, then we’re lugging loads of baby gear around or stooping over to pick up toys or looking for a lost sock or something. You get it. Moms = bad posture.

I’ve never taken any of this seriously. I’ve never actually been careful about taking care of myself physically. Our bodies are resilient. Our ancestors hunted and foraged and migrated vast distances, surely my body can stand what I am doing. It’s not like I’m working in the fields or building houses or working out eight hours a day or something.

But I’ve done it nonetheless. I’m only in my mid-20s and my body has decided to pay me back for not taking care of it. I need to see a chiropractor, an eye doctor, a jaw masseuse (no joke, they exist), an orthotist, and a lactation consultant all because my body has decided that it has had it with me.

This week I’ve been thinking about how badly I treat myself. Physically speaking. As I go through my rolodex of memories I come across time after time when I knew what I needed to …

July 12th, 2011

marriage-rainbows-puppies-flashI confess. I love celebrity gossip. I love all those magazines that crowd the checkout aisle at the grocery store. I love the fashion. I love the makeup. I love the gossip. But with kids, our budget made me decide between diapers and Us Weekly. Assuming that the girls wouldn’t enjoy their bums being swaddled in pictures of Alicia Silverstone’s new baby, I choose to go with diapers.

But this past weekend we took a mini-vacation and visited my parents in Houston. So I splurged and bought the juiciest looking mag I could find.

As I flipped through the pages I was not disappointed. Beautiful dresses and gorgeous handbags. The newest trends in shoes. I was almost giddy. But then I started reading about couples that have separated or divorced. While this isn’t new — celebrities not having long-lasting relationships — I read about some couples I thought were going to be together forever. Courtney Cox and David Arquette? When the heck did that happen? I thought they were rock solid. I had to run to the computer and look up Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. just to make sure they were still together so I could feel a little better about the state of marriage in the celebrity world.

I kept reading and found an interview with Blake Shelton about his recent marriage to Miranda Lambert. Ok, this has to be a happy; they just got married. But then they asked him how he had dealt with a previous marriage and divorce. He responded, “Life isn’t perfect so you find what makes you happy and you do it.” That’s it. I threw the magazine across the room.

I hate that. I hate it when people say, “You’ve got to do what makes you happy.” There’s no commitment in that statement. There’s no maturity. There’s no room for another. It’s just plain selfish. Now I know there are situations that come up that are grave enough to warrant separation or divorce as the right course of action. But what I …

July 5th, 2011

toomuchlove-flash“Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.” -C.S. Lewis

I know that Lewis was probably referring to God loving us too much but I think this works for us as well. I am always too embarrassed, and sometimes even scared, to love people the way I know I should because I don’t want them to think that I love them too much.

The women in my family have taught me how to show love through affection, hospitality, and generosity.  There is not a woman who so openly shows her extravagant love as La Lupe.  Everyone that crosses her path is well-fed, hugged, kissed, maybe scolded a bit, but definitely knows her love.  She is a great role model in this regard.

For some reason, while I know what I need to do to show people love, I really struggle with actually doing it.  When I attend weddings, I get so nervous about talking to the newlyweds that I actually avoid them. I tell myself that they have more important people that they want to talk to than me so I avoid them to not take up time. (I know, pretty self-deprecating. Welcome to my head.) It’s such a load of crap. What I’m really scared of is showing the couple that I love them. I am scared that they will reject this love. That they will think I expressed too much love and not consider me as good a friend as I might consider them.

I know what scares me is the vulnerability of loving another.  Of giving them hugs, of congratulating them, of complimenting them.  To express such a real emotion makes me open to rejection and I sometimes cannot handle the possibility of this so I don’t let myself be vulnerable to begin with.

But the more big life experiences I live, the more I realize how silly I am being. At our wedding, every single person we invited was important to us.  There was no one that was invited that we hoped would …

June 28th, 2011

tin roofI’ve been anxiously awaiting my trip to Nashville for what seems like forever. Since my first visit there two years ago my life has changed dramatically. No longer a recent college graduate, I’m not unsure of my future and my answer to the once dreaded question, ‘What do you do?’ Finally, I can say I’m a music journalist and not hesitate while thinking, ‘Well, I work here during the day but I write here and intern here.’

Sitting at Tin Roof for lunch (and sweet tea!) in Nashville by myself after David Nail’s fan club performance, I’m reminded that he was the first country artist I interviewed just two years ago. A lot has happened since then.

Overhead, Third Eye Blind is blasting from the speakers. Next, I hear Boys Like Girls and Taylor Swift’s “Two Is Better Than One” before the DJ segues into Train’s latest single. It’s here that it hits me. I have interviewed every single artist just played on the radio. Hard to believe exactly two years ago I was here for fun, covering the CMA Music Festival writing for free and now I’m getting paid to do what I love.

Sure, there have been some dark days where nothing seems to make any sense. But if the past few years have taught me anything it’s that if you stick with what you really love and follow your heart anything can happen. Carrie Underwood seems to think the same way. During Billboard’s Country Music Summit she talked of her experience acting in the film Soul Surfer and whether or not acting would remain in her future. What she said struck a chord.

“I just take my opportunities as they come. I feel like if you try to force anything, then it’s not going to be good. I see what’s going to happen and I say my prayers at night. ‘Just lead me in the right direction! And give me good things that I should be doing and give me opportunities to branch out and have fun with things and just do …

June 23rd, 2011

suckitup-flashWe’ve all been there. Your husband is spilling his heart out to you and the only thing you want to do is yell, “Freakin’ suck it up and deal with it!” Ok, maybe it’s just me. Sometimes I’m too tired to offer a sympathetic ear. Sometimes I’ve heard the same thing over and over, and I just don’t want to hear it again. But mostly I want to tell him this because I don’t think what he is complaining about is all that bad.

When Brandon complains about having a hard day, I have to bite my tongue from saying, “Hard day? When your client poops all over your last clean t-shirt and knocks over a canned food display in the grocery store then I will believe you’ve had a rough day.” I feel like I have it harder than him so I don’t feel like his complaining is justified. More likely than not what actually comes out of my mouth is, “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and keep forging ahead.”

Talk about breaking the first rule you learn in Marriage 101. Listening and being compassionate are pretty high on the list of necessary communication skills. So while I knew I lacked these qualities in conversations with my husband, I didn’t quite understand his plight until recently.

As I made clear in my June 8 post, I haven’t been teaching the girls about Mexican culture. What I failed to mention is that I haven’t even been teaching them Spanish. It’s just so hard. It is difficult enough keeping our family fed, house clean, and everyone wearing matching socks much less remembering to call an apple a manzana.

I have been stewing in guilt about this but of course some people find it necessary to stir the pot even more. Every time I talk to La Lupe she reminds me that my kids better be speaking Spanish when we go visit. One acquaintance that I see often always has to rub it in by asking if I am teaching the girls Spanish and …

June 16th, 2011

At what age are we supposed to receive everything we’ve ever dreamt of? Not 25 — I’ll tell you that. But for some reason, many of us at this age feel like we are supposed to be at a certain place in life. For many of us, we are gravely disappointed when 26 shows up.

If you haven’t heard, Oprah is no longer on the air 4 p.m. EST on ABC. Her 25 years came to an end the same time mine did. I would be lying to say I didn’t cry during her last episode…

June 14th, 2011

flag2-flashWhen I was a kid, I always enjoyed holding my hand over my heart and saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day. I love singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the beginning of baseball games. My heart can’t help but swell with pride for my country. My dad, being from Mexico, always made sure I knew how blessed I was to be born and live in the United States of America.

That being said, my first allegiance is to God. When it comes to “God stuff” in “State stuff,” I have no problems. I think it’s great that the Pledge of Allegiance includes “one nation under God.” I know the Knights of Columbus fought hard for this addition. It is citing the correct order of things — God first, Country second.

It is important to keep this order in mind when putting “State stuff” in “God stuff.” The majority of Catholic churches in Texas that I have entered (which is a lot because I’m a big nerd and love visiting churches I’ve never been to) have an American flag displayed near or next to the tabernacle. I take issue with the flag being up there next to the true presence of Christ and addressed this point in a blog post last year. I have thought about this a lot and have found no theological argument for its placement there.

I know there is nothing in Canon Law that regulates the placement of flags in a church, but it just seems proper for the sanctuary of the church to be free of all civil signs as it is the sacred space where the Body and Blood are present with us. I have no problem with an American flag in a church but I think that its placement it very important. It should be in the parish hall or in the atrium or narthex. To have it in the sanctuary of the church seems opposed to what the church stands for, a place for all people, no exceptions.

As Christians, …

June 10th, 2011

annie-coincidences-largeThe more I talk with Monica and Farrah about our career paths over the past few months, the harder it is to believe in coincidences. Instead, I find myself realizing more and more that God must have a hand in all of this. How else would we have wound up living in Brooklyn together and writing about these experiences and constant questions we have day-to-day?

I’m sure Monica has a lot to say about Oprah’s final episode last week, but one topic that she touched upon that struck me was that we should all listen to that whisper we hear (God) guiding us toward the right path. When we hear that voice and ignore it, our lives go off course. Often, it takes a huge meltdown and everything in your life turned upside down to realize it’s time to follow that voice.

I graduated four years ago and remember one specific moment I had when running into a former high school teacher of mine at our local bookstore. I was paging through the latest issue of Rolling Stone, thinking of stories to pitch them in hopes to work there after college. You know that look you get when someone thinks you’re crazy? Well he did one of those and simply said, “Good luck, Annie.” Obviously skeptical of my high hopes.

I wish I could say that was my last encounter with people doubting my career choices and ambitions, but it only got harder. But, for some reason, I always had that nagging desire to prove the world wrong and figure out how to make my passion for music also my job. Four years later, I’ve interned and freelanced for some of my dream publications (including Rolling Stone) and still have that childhood excitement after interviewing my favorite bands. While I know this career isn’t the easiest path one could take, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. There isn’t a moment I don’t thank God for allowing me to follow my heart.

Do you believe in coincidences?

June 8th, 2011

boogeyman-flashI have been failing as a Mexican for a while now. I have not been passing on important cultural traditions to my children. This isn’t because it slips my mind; I have consciously been avoiding it.

Months ago my parents bought us some books in Spanish that contain traditional Mexican folklore. One story is “La Llorona.” It’s about a beautiful woman who threw her children in the river out of rage after her husband left her for another woman. After realizing what she did, she ran along the banks trying to catch them until she slipped and fell and died. To this day you can hear her ghost’s shrill cry as she wanders around after nightfall grabbing any children she finds to make them her own.

I know. Scary, right? Can you imagine reading that to a 2-year-old? And yet that story was really important to my childhood. It used to be one of my favorite stories to listen to. All of my friends knew it. It’s so old, La Lupe was told the story when she was a kid. Whenever I hear it, I feel connected to my past because of how long it has been around. And yet, I have not been able to bring myself to read it to Olivia.

Then there is the story about “el cucuy.” Like the boogeyman but Mexican. My childhood was filled with threats of the cucuy. If you don’t finish your dinner, el cucuy will come get you. Don’t wander off inside the store or the cucuy will grab you. You better behave or I’m going to call the cucuy. If I don’t teach Olivia this term, we’re going to go to El Paso one day and she’s going to have no idea what the heck La Lupe or anyone else is talking about. It’s just such a part of the language. I used to use it all the time when dealing with non-compliant little cousins.

Then, perhaps, my biggest problem. Spanish TV. It has become so trashy. Every woman is so scantily clad …

June 3rd, 2011

brokenphone-flash3Let’s imagine that your friend were sober and broke your phone by sheer accident. Should she feel obligated to compensate you? Yes. She is responsible for the damage, much the way one would be responsible for breaking a dish in a china shop. The fact that she was drunk implies negligence and increases her responsibility, rather than mitigating it. (Consider how a drunk driver who causes an accident incurs greater penalties than a sober driver.) So of course she should apologize for what happened and pay for the repair of your phone. It is reasonable for you to expect that.

As far as whether or not you should demand payment, ask yourself about the nature of your relationship. Is it a strong friendship, which will weather this storm and emerge even stronger? Or is it a casual friendship, which will break under the strain? Is recovering the cost of the phone worth losing the friendship? Or is the friendship not worth keeping in the first place? As a Christian you are called to forgive – every time we say the Our Father we pray that God will forgive us our trespasses “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” But forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to let people walk all over us, so you would be wise to avoid loaning your phone to your friend again. Only you can decide what you want your relationship with your friend to look like going forward.

June 1st, 2011

babyboom2014-flashLike any young couple with a growing family, Brandon and I have been discerning and having monthly conversations about when we should have our next child.  Recently, the following statement actually came out of my mouth, “Well, Obama’s health care reform will kick-in in 2014 and then we will be able to get maternity care on our insurance plan.  Maybe we’ll just have to wait until then.”

Wow.  As soon as I said it I was just so disgusted by the kind of system we have that would make it so hard to have kids.  Our family planning is going to be based on when a law goes into effect?  No way.  I refuse to be bullied by the insurance industry into letting it dictate our reproductive planning.

Our mailbox has been bursting at the seams with medical bills the last few months.  When I stop to think about all the money we have spent on medical needs in the last year it seriously makes me sick.  Granted, Lina is absolutely worth all the bills (those chubby cheeks are so irresistible,) but it doesn’t make the amount of money that is moving from our savings account to the hospital’s or doctors’ or Blue Cross Blue Shield’s pocket any less obscene.

When we got pregnant and found out our medical insurance didn’t cover maternity care, we definitely panicked at first, but eventually figured it out.  We talked to the hospital before we had Lina and, if we paid in full before the birth, they would give us a major discount.  Done.  Our doctor was very kind and gave us a bit of a discount as well.  It was going to be a lot of money but we were navigating the waters and saving a little here and there.  Additionally, our medical insurance covered Lina from the second she was born so we thought we were in the clear.

But then we got a bill from the hospital for Lina and all her expenses.  We called the insurance company and understood they were still trying …

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